ROGERS, Ark. » Yani Tseng was as amazed as anyone during Michelle Wie’s torrid stretch early in the weekend, when Wie shot a 28 for nine holes to take command at the Northwest Arkansas Championship.
Just more than 24 hours later, Tseng was the tournament’s champion — after rallying to beat Wie by a stroke.
"She’s just so good," Tseng said. "I just really play, one shot at a time, but if I don’t make lots of birdies today, I couldn’t win."
Tseng made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine en route to a 6-under 65 yesterday that gave her a third LPGA Tour victory for the year. Tseng, from Taiwan, held off Wie when both players made birdies on No. 18. Tseng finished at 13-under 200.
Wie (69) gave up the lead on the back nine — the same half of the course she played in 7-under 28 Saturday that helped her take a three-stroke lead after two rounds. Tseng played with Wie during that round and was alongside her again yesterday.
"Yani played great," Wie said. "Usually, if you’re 12 under, it’s good enough. I played good today. I had faith in myself."
The 20-year-old Wie was trying for her second straight win. She won the Canadian Women’s Open late last month.
Juli Inkster, who at 50 was trying to become the oldest player to win on the tour, shot 72 and finished seven shots back. She’d entered the day tied for second with Tseng and Na Yeon Choi. Mika Miyazato (64) finished third at 10 under at Pinnacle Country Club.
Tseng has five career LPGA Tour victories, including three majors. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Women’s British Open this year. She jumped to the top of the Rolex Player of the Year race. She also is second on the money list.
Wie and Tseng were grouped with Inkster yesterday. Wie fell into a tie with Inkster at 9 under when she three-putted No. 6 for a bogey. Wie responded with a birdie on No. 7 and led Tseng by two strokes after both players birdied the 11th.
Tseng kept the pressure on. Although Wie scrambled to make pars on Nos. 13, 14 and 15, Tseng birdied 12, 14 and 15 to take the lead. Wie then bogeyed No. 16 to fall two strokes back, but hit an outstanding tee shot on the par-3 17th and made a birdie, one of only six on that hole all day.
That set up No. 18, a 515-yard par 5 that Wie had eagled the previous day. Tseng missed the fairway but hit a tremendous second shot from about 200 yards to the fringe, around 20 feet from the hole.